Most of us probably don’t think too much about the Census on a regular basis.
Sure, you know it comes every 10 years and is used to accurately count the population and re-allocate federal and state voting districts. Maybe you know its numbers are used for a whole host of government programs, from road and transportation funding to free and reduced school lunch programs to health care for the poor.
But did you know the folks at the U.S. Census and their state and local partners are already hard at work making sure everything is ready for April 1, 2010?
The Oklahoma State Data Center, part of the state Commerce Department, held a conference yesterday in Moore to update Census users and organizers on Census 2010 and other data released by the Census Bureau. Here’s a few of the highlights:
- In 2007, Oklahoma received about $5 billion in federal funds that are tied to Census figures. That’s $1,392 per person. Put another way, it’s enough to a buy a fancy Starbucks coffee or a gallon of gas for each Oklahoma resident every day of the year (roughly $3.81 per person/day).
- The 2010 Census forms will be offered in more than 50 languages.
- The Census Bureau is spending more than $200 million to get the word out to “hard-to-count” groups such as low-income residents, recent immigrants and young people.
- After a $595 million technology contract went wrong, the Census is back to using paper and pencil. More on that here and here.
- Between now and April 1, 2010, Census has to verify 130 million addresses, prepare for 40 million non-respondents and fill 750,000 temporary positions for everything from supervisors, field workers and enumerators.
- Oklahoma had a response rate of 64 percent in Census 2000, compared to 67 percent for the nation.
- Privacy concerns and distrust of government contribute to lower response rates. (For every 1 percentage point of the non-response rate, it costs the Census Bureau about $75 million to follow-up in some way.)
- Although Canada, Australia and other countries have experimented with doing at least part of their Census over the Internet, it’s unlikely to happen here in the U.S. for 2010. (Much to the chagrin of our own U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.)
Written by Paul Monies